My Identity was stolen on the internet

Not too long ago, I made a disturbing discovery. I received a statement in the mail for a department store credit card that I hadn’t authorized, and noticed a shipping address that was not my own. My name was listed on the bill, and my home address was recorded as the billing address – but the shipping address was for a location in an entirely different state.

I immediately called the credit card company to find out what was happening, thinking there must be some kind of mistake. I was connected with a helpful customer service representative who was able to quickly determine that I was a victim of fraud. Thankfully, she believed me when I insisted I had not authorized this card to be opened.

Once the customer service representative had notified her company’s fraud department, I asked if she might be able to give me any further information. She was very helpful and gave me the name of the person who had opened the account.

After hanging up with the credit card company, I immediately did a quick Internet search. Having the name of the women who opened the account, and knowing the state where the products were sent made my search rather easy. Soon I was able to locate a telephone number for the person who had opened this credit card in my name, without my permission.

I dialed the number and was a little surprised to hear an older woman’s voice on the phone. She was clearly unnerved when I told her my name and asked why she had opened an account using my identity. Out spilled her story of meeting a man with my name in an Internet chat room.

Nervously she shared how he had convinced her to open a few credit card accounts on his behalf. He gave her the necessary information and directed her to make store credit purchases at a major department store, a clothing store, and a toy store. I was a bit alarmed – the major department store was not the only place where an unauthorized credit card had been issued.

The woman continued to tell me that the impostor had convinced her he wasn’t able to purchase products from the United States on his own and needed her help. He told her she would be doing him a big favor if she would order items on his behalf, and have them sent to her address. Then, she was directed to ship the items to him at an address outside the country.

After kindly assuring this lady that I, in fact, had never authorized these purchases, she became filled with remorse, and stopped sharing any information with me. It was clear she feared some kind of punishment or revenge. I tried to calm her by informing her that she was also a victim of fraud, and ended our call by encouraging her to report this matter to her local police.

I then made calls to the other stores where the woman had opened credit accounts in my name. Fortunately, the fraud departments at each of the stores were able to successfully reverse the charges and close the accounts.

It did take a few weeks and some follow-up phone calls for the matter to be completely resolved with all the stores. However, it took longer to shake the feeling of being violated. It was unnerving to know that someone else had used my name and information to open a line of credit without my knowledge. It could happen again, and it could happen to anyone.

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